July 21, 2016

As a developer, you quickly learn that your ability to excel (or maybe function at all) is strongly correlated with your Google-fu.

Personally, when working across multiple programming languages and platforms, the exact incantation I need to display a UIAlertController or store an HTTP response in a cache is not found in the 32 kilobytes of RAM between my ears. So I turn to Google to fill in the gaps. And Google, in turn, turns to Stack Overflow. Chances are good that the right Stack Overflow answer will reward me with a chunk of code or a pointer I require to continue with my task.

That’s why I was so excited to learn about Stack Overflow Documentation. The focus of this new member of the Stack Overflow family is providing code examples and written guides that demonstrate how to get things done with the tools and programming languages you use every day.

How You Can Participate in Stack Overflow Documentation

Twilio already provides documentation resources that we hope will help you get started and get finished with our API.

  • Quickstarts will help you quickly get acquainted with Twilio’s APIs
  • Tutorials step through full sample apps that show how Twilio is used in production
  • API Reference dives deep into the parameters and outputs of each Twilio API

However, it’s unlikely that we could provide examples of how to do everything Twilio can do in every programming language (although we’ll do our best). Stack Overflow documentation allows the real Twilio experts (read: you) to help fill in the gaps, and provide that example of how to submit call quality feedback in Scala or Haskell.

So we invite all of you to join with us to help curate a rich set of examples that go beyond the core docs using Twilio’s Stack Overflow documentation tag. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Twilio on Stack Overflow Documentation

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It seems that the nostalgia industry will never die. But anyone who wants to turn back the clock might get more than they bargain for. For example, you’re on your way home from work. You duck into the grocery store to pick up one small item, like a can of tomato sauce. Immediately you feel like you’re on an episode... Read More

The post Respect the Customer Journey: Principles of Voice Self-Service Apps appeared first on Plum Voice.

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A few weeks ago we participated in Call Center Week 2016 and now that I’m back in the office I wanted to reflect a bit on a couple of the themes and industry trends I noticed while at the event.

Omni-Channel – By this point we’ve all heard the term Omni-Channel so it’s no surprise it was a top theme at the conference. What was surprising is people’s perception of the term. The consensus seems to be that not everyone is 100% sure what it actually means in practice and there are a myriad of ways to interpret it. Here’s what I heard from talking to people throughout the event:

  • There is a perception that Omni-Channel is ideal for the customer experience but is often cost & resource prohibitive.
  • Everyone seems to be struggling with data integration across all channels, which makes that Omni-Channel experience feel unattainable.
  • Many managers really dislike social media as a channel, but are incorporating it into their repertoire in hopes that it will help them achieve an Omni-Channel feel.

Given the amount of hype around Omni-Channel, we plan to spend some more time on the topic in a separate blog post in hopes to address some of the misconceptions and perceptions mentioned above. In the interim you can check out this webinar that addresses at least some aspects: How to get to the Omni-Channel future with the technology you already have.

Reduced Customer Effort – This may seem like an obvious topic at an event like Call Center Week, but what struck me was the amount of focus on lowering effort versus adding channels. It felt a little contradictory to the whole Omni-Channel focus mentioned above, but most important to the customer experience is low effort communication that allows customers to accomplish goals. Customers are willing to use whatever channel is available as long as it’s best-of-breed and can efficiently get the job done. Keynote speaker Matt Dixon, author of The Effortless Experience, offered up these statistics:

  • 16% of customers value choice over ease. Was the issue resolved in the preferred channel?
  • 84% of customers prefer ease over choice. Could a customer obtain a fast resolution without bouncing from channel to channel?

The key takeaway for me here was that we can spend a bunch of time trying to implement an Omni-Channel platform, but if the channels in play aren’t effective, then it’s a useless effort.

When Customer Service Matters the Most –There’s always been an assumption that customer service is most important post-purchase. But in truth, the typical customer continues to evolve along with the growing number of channels that companies offer. Mentioned in multiple sessions I attended is the notion that exceptional customer service is now mandatory throughout the entire customer journey. From initial conversations through post-transaction follow-ups, there needs to be consistency with the customer experience. This affects multiple areas within the cycle:

  • Brand Reputation and Awareness – Keep your brand visible and build trust. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for and make it easy for them to reach you on their terms.
  • Personalization – Maintain accurate historical data on your customers and use it to proactively address them. As you iterate towards better technology and processes, you’ll eventually be able to maintain the data across channels, giving customers the info they need before they know they need it.
  • Ongoing Support – People fear that once their purchase is completed, that’s the last time they’ll hear from a brand. Unfortunately, it’s a fear because it’s a common occurrence. It’s essential to spend significant time nurturing the customer relationship in the same way you would nurture a prospect. A happy customer is priceless and will be your #1 promoter and lead generator. And while a happy customer can become a long-term advocate and source of revenue, an unhappy customer can have substantial negative impact. Just look at the social media sites of some of the top brands you use and you’ll get a sense for how customer perception can shape the conversation.

Effortless, personal, and reliable – The three words I heard the most, these form the three essentials for an extraordinary customer experience. Does every facet of your customer’s journey allow for an effortless, personal, and reliable experience? Always look at your business from the customer’s perspective and walk through each channel yourself. If you can’t complete a transaction effortlessly then there’s no way your customers can.

There was a lot more to absorb from the event but these were the things that seemed consistent across multiple sessions and conversations. They all lead back to the one thing that we’re all trying to master – a truly effortless customer experience. No matter what industry you’re in, it all leads back to that.  If you would like to read more about our take on the effortless experience, you can read this blog: http://www.smartaction.com/the-effortless-experience/

About the Author:

Kim Snow, Sr. Manager, Marketing Programs

Kim has over 10 years marketing experience specializing in B2B. Passionate about technology and innovation she is dedicated to creating the most relevant and up-to-date industry content.


The post Call Center Week 2016 – Trends & Observations appeared first on SmartAction.

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July 20, 2016

Another conference call, another app, another PIN, another log-in. Joining conference calls shouldn’t take more than a simple a call. In a few minutes minutes, you can build a conference line anyone and everyone can use easily, even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life.

Let’s Build A Conference Line

  • Go to Twilio.com and create a new account.
  • Then go up to the top left of your screen and click “home” to go to your Console Home.
  • Scroll down to Developer Center and click on TwiML Bins. This is the place where our code will live. This code will tell Twilio what to do when a call comes in.
  • Click create new TwiML Bin. We’ll name this TwiML Bin “My Conference Line”
  • Let’s Write Some Code

    The first thing we’ll do is respond to the call coming in. To respond, we’ll use the

     TwiML verb.

    Create a response tag like so:



    Then we’ll add

     within the Response tag. This  verb will a greeting our caller. You can write whatever greeting you’d like here.

       Hey, thanks for calling! You’ll be connected shortly 

    Now that you’ve greeted your caller, we need to get them to their conference call. By using the

     verb we’ll, Dial a conference line after the greeting.
    You can give the conference line we’ll dial any name you like. We chose “my-conference-line” in this case.

       Hey! This is a demo conference line for Kenny. Hi Kenny!


    Double check that your TwiML is valid, then click create.

    Awesome! Now we have our code written for our conference line, and we’re ready to connect that code to a phone number.

    Head back to your home screen by clicking the home icon in the top left corner. Then scroll down to phone numbers and click that. Go to manage phone numbers, and click on the number you purchased recently.

    Scroll down to the “When a call comes in field” and select your TwiML Bin “My Conference Line” Hit save and you’re done. You built your first conference line! Give it a call and take it for a spin the next time you’re on a conference call.

    How To Build A Conference Line With Twilio

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    Behind all the solutions by ReadSpeaker there is a server-based software performing the speech synthesis, called text-to-speech software. The voices we use are provided by different providers but the technique behind the different voices has many similarities. Therefore we like to tell you briefly about the development of speech synthesis and its history.

    A History of Speech Synthesis

    Over the last few years there has been a great development of the quality of the speech produced with text to speech. Many people think that synthetic speech as it is also called sounds like robots from older movies. The truth is though that some voices almost sound like recorded speech and due to that we have seen a very strong growth of user groups for our services the last years.
    When we invented the talking web in 2001 the target group was people with reading difficulties but now we see that the user group is much broader.

    WhaImage of Voder Speech Synthesis Machinet you maybe don’t know is that the first synthetic speech was produced as early as in the late 18th century. The machine was built in wood and leather and was very complicated to use generating audible speech. It was constructed by Wolfgang von Kempelen and had great importance in the early studies of Phonetics. The picture to the left is the original construction as it can be seen at the Deutsches Museum (von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik) in Munich, Germany.

    (First there is a human that says a sentence and then the machine tries to say the same. This was made by a re-construction of Kempelens machine.)

    In the early 20th century when it was possible to use electricity to create synthetic speech, the first known electric speech synthesis was “Voder” and its creator Homer Dudley showed it to a broader audience in 1939 on the world fair in New York. Here’s a video demonstrating Voder:


    One of the pioneers of the development of speech synthesis in Sweden was Gunnar Fant. During the 1950s he was responsible for the development of the first Swedish speech synthesis Orator Verbis Electris (OVE). Here’s a video of a modern demonstration of his machine, as well as a video of Professor Fant showing how his original machine worked:


    By that time it was only Walter Lawrence’s Parametric Artificial Talker (PAT) that could compete with OVE in speech quality. OVE and PAT were text-to-speech systems using Formant synthesis. You can find an example of Lawrence’s PAT, as well as other early speech synthesizers by visiting this page from the University of Indiana.

    Speech Synthesis Becomes More Human-like

    The greatest improvements when it comes to natural speech were during the last 10 years. The first voices we used for ReadSpeaker back in 2001 were produced using Diphone synthesis. The voices are sampled from real recorded speech and split into phonemes, a small unit of human speech. This was the first example of Concatenation synthesis. However, they still have an artificial/synthetic sound. We still use diphone voices for some smaller languages and they are widely used to speech-enable handheld computers and mobile phones due to their limited resource consumption, both memory and CPU.

    It wasn’t until the introduction of a technique called Unit selection, that voices became very naturally sounding. this is still concatenation synthesis but the used units are larger than phonemes, sometimes a complete sentence. We use different providers for different languages to always assure we can offer the best voices available for that language.

    In a next post we will cover the different techniques behind speech synthesis.

    Thanks to Professor Hartmut Traunmüller, Dept. of Linguistics at the University of Stockholm for a lot of the facts and the picture on this page.

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    July 19, 2016

    Unchecked multi-tasking can (and will) turn you into someone who you don’t recognize, someone who eats peanut butter M&Ms at 10am.

    Every time you switch from one task to another, your brain burns through glucose. When your brain’s glucose reserves run low, you become a sugar zombie on the hunt for the fuel your brain needs to multitask. Unsurprisingly, this behavior leaves you stressed out.

    The average “information worker” switches their focus every 45 seconds. That’s 640 switches in one eight hour work day.
    WNYC’s Note To Self podcast challenged their listeners to defy habit, to stay steadfastly focused in the age of information overload — by sending them 300,000 texts as part of their Infomagical Campaign.

    Switching Focus Every 45 Seconds

    The hours spent tethered to a  never-ending stream of updates, emails, pings, DMs and desk knocks left many Note To Self listeners unable to connect to others, and even themselves. 15,000 Note To Self listeners admitted they needed the podcast’s help and enrolled in Infomagical’s SMS program.
    Note To Self gave their listeners a simple quiz to determine what they wanted out of their focus: to be more focused, more creative, more in touch with family, more productive at work etc.
    They issued listeners daily challenges via SMS, and checked in on the listeners’ progress throughout the day with a follow up message. The first challenge was simple, albeit Herculean — focus on one single task. Don’t give in to the 45-second switch. Do not check Facebook while writing searching for the sentence that will open the next paragraph of a blog post. Okay, maybe that last one was a challenge for myself.

    Winning The Fight Against Distractions

    In the middle of day one, Note To Self fired off a round of texts checking how participants focus was holding up, and how they felt. Over 50% of users replied.
    On the first day of the project, 40% of participants reported feeling less overwhelmed. By the final day, 71% said they felt less overwhelmed.
    Note To Self host Manoush Zomorodi, told Neiman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen, “We were worried about annoying people with texts, but in retrospect, I wish we’d sent them a reminder every single day,” adding, “People would say they’d forgotten and we got them back on track. Notifications are annoying if you don’t ask for them, but if this is a week when you decide you want to change something in your life, you want as much help as you can get.”

    A Radio Voice Captured In A Text

    Zomorodi found that SMS resonates similarly to radio with listeners. Each medium of communication fosters direct connection of radio host to radio listener. She was able to easily carry the style of voice her listeners recognize on radio, into texts. But, WNYC had to carefully weigh how to get those messages out, while keeping their servers upright.
    Sending 15,000 people over 300,000 well-timed text messages was no small task for the engineer behind Note To Self’s SMS campaign, Alan Palazzolo. Alan worked with the Note To Self team to stress test their Twilio app before rolling it out.
    By the end of their Infomagical week, they had sent over 300,000 texts and had 15 hours of listener voicemails waiting for them. Listeners opened up about their week-long challenge in a way they might not have in a public forum. In saving listeners from becoming candy zombies, Zomorodi helped them find a better part of themselves, and may have found a better part of herself in the process.
    Zomorodi told Nieman Labs “A lot of them would start out by being like, ‘Hey, Manoush, here’s what’s  going on in my day.’ At the end, some people would say, ‘Okay, I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.’  I was really moved by it in a way that I had not expected to be.”

    WNYC’s Note To Self Podcast Curbs Listener’s Information Overload with 300,000 Texts

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    July 18, 2016

    As further proof that it aims to have a hand in each and every single activity in which businesses engage today, Microsoft later this year plans to roll out a live captioning service for Skype for Business, transcribing business meeting in up to 40 languages. The Meeting Broadcast technology will provide automated text captions using […]

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    Imagine your dream car. Now imagine you’re in the stereotypical car commercial, whipping down a windy mountain road. What color is the car? What type of upholstery did you choose? Did you go for the upgraded navigation system? Instead of managing those variables in your head, Whisbi lets you do that on screen, with a salesperson on the line to help you make your choice. Whisbi gives companies the ability to seamlessly marry audio and visual storytelling to give their customers the best experience possible in buying their dream car, or simply getting customer support.

    Using Click To Call To Change Customer Engagement

    Fiat, Porsche, Nissan, Jeep, Audi, Land Rover and numerous other companies use Whisbi to augment a phone call with a visual walkthrough. Let’s say a customer is on a call with a Porsche salesperson and they have a few questions about the car they’re about to buy. Using Whisbi, that salesperson can pair the audio from the phone call with a web-based tour of the car the customer wants to buy.
    The whole process starts with WebRTC based click to call. When a user is browsing any Whisbi customer’s site, they can press a button and Twilio will initiate a call to a salesperson as well as the customer. The user will get a phone call from Twilio saying “Hey, we heard you wanted to learn more about Porsches. Press 1 to be connected to a salesperson.” After both parties accept the call, Whisbi directs them to a secure webpage where the user can get a walkthrough of the product.

    Teleporting Customers To You Using A Phone and A Browser

    “Whisbi helps teleport online leads to physical locations,” says Vanessa Goslow of Whisbi. While they have automotive name brands under their umbrella, Whisbi also has clients like Vodafone who pair phone support with web-based support to solve customer support issues faster and more efficiently. “Everyone has a phone and everyone has a browser. But, not everyone has a mic on their computer,” says Vanessa. Twilio bridges that technological gap with one keystroke from the user.

    Scaling Globally With One Click

    Whisbi needs to be where their customers are. When you have massive global brands like Vodafone, Jeep, Google and others, that means you need to be all over the world. Before switching to Twilio, they struggled to find a communications provider that could empower them to scale their business worldwide. For each different territory their customers operated in, they had to set up a new relationship with a new communications provider. It was as time consuming as it was hard to manage. After switching to Twilio, they can deploy and manage their global presence easily from their Twilio Dashboard.

    “With Twilio we obtain two big benefits. The first is a global call system with the capability to have a high level of automatisation, avoiding the typical problems of coverage and availability. The second is a good environment for developers, with full detail of logs, and real time information of the call process. The combination of these two benefits was the key for us,” says José Luis Cantero, CTO and Co-Founder of Whisbi.

    Now that Whisbi has a new Twilio-powered communications stack in place, they can focus more time on doing what they do best— serving their customers, and less time on serving communications providers.

    Whisbi Builds A Better Customer Engagement Experience With WebRTC and Twilio

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    July 15, 2016

    Twilio’s “no shenanigans” approach to data privacy extends to all customers and users – wherever you’re located. As Twilio’s international presence continues to expand, we are providing more detail at a country level about the types of law enforcement requests Twilio has received.

    You can learn about these requests in our transparency report for the first half of 2016.

    Twilio Transparency Report – First Half of 2016

    The objective of Twilio’s semi-annual transparency report is to inform you of the total volume of government requests for information received by Twilio, how Twilio responded to the requests and how often Twilio notified users of the requests.

    • You can view our most recent transparency report for the first half of 2016 here.
    • You can download a text file of our transparency report from our GitHub repository here.

    Advocating for Privacy and Security

    There’s a complicated balance between the responsibility of law enforcement to promote public safety and the responsibility of technology companies to protect the privacy and security of users. What’s clear cut is the important and inevitable role that encryption plays in secure communication.

    • You can find out more about why Twilio joined a court brief in support of Apple and in defense of individual privacy and security.
    • You can read why Twilio’s General Counsel, Karyn Smith, called on Congress to work with the tech community to promote strong data security principles in this TechCrunch Op/Ed.
    • You can view the letter by Twilio and 17 other tech companies to the U.S. House of Representatives Encryption Working Group here.

    Transparency and Trust

    The trust you place in Twilio for your vital communications is of paramount importance.

    Twilio’s transparency reports attempt to provide the visibility you deserve and expect from a cloud service, and Twilio’s advocacy efforts mirror this commitment to upholding your trust.

    Please email transparency@twilio.com with specific questions or feedback on the transparency report.

    Expanding Global Reach with Detailed Data: New Transparency Report

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    July 14, 2016

    With Twilio’s new Add-ons marketplace developers can reap the benefits of third party APIs with the flip of a switch. The IBM Watson Message Sentiment Add-on adds sentiment analysis information to every SMS request sent to your web application.

    Let’s build a Flask app that will determine the sentiment of text messages sent to your Twilio number.

    Getting started

    Before writing any code make sure you have:

    Now let’s install the necessary third party libraries.

    Run the following commands in your terminal to install Flask and the Twilio Python module, preferably in a virtual environment:

    pip install flask
    pip install twilio

    Responding to Incoming text messages

    Before being able to respond to messages, you’ll need a Twilio phone number. You can buy a phone number here.

    Now let’s create a web app that responds to text messages sent to this number. Open a file called app.py and create a Flask app with one route:

    from flask import Flask, request
    from twilio import twiml
    app = Flask(__name__)
    @app.route('/sms', methods=['POST'])
    def sms_reply():
        message_received = request.form['Body']
        response_message = 'Your message was {}.'.format(message_received)
        response = twiml.Response()
        return str(response)

    When a text comes into Twilio, Twilio makes an HTTP request to your webapp and expects instructions back in the form of TwiML. The single route on this web app uses the Twilio Python library to generate and return TwiML that responds to the incoming text message with another message.

    Your Flask app will need to be visible from the Internet in order for Twilio to send requests to it. We will use ngrok for this, which you’ll need to install if you don’t have it.  In your terminal run the following command:

    ngrok http 5000

    Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.52.54 AM.png

    This provides us with a publicly accessible URL to the Flask app. Configure your phone number as seen in this image:
    Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.54.53 AM.png

    You are now ready to send a text message to your new Twilio number.

    SMS Sentiment Analysis with IBM Watson

    To add sentiment analysis to all of your incoming text messages, you just need to activate the IBM Watson Message Sentiment Add-on by clicking the “Install” button in your console.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.57.24 AM.png

    In the POST request sent to your application, there will be a new AddOns field, inside of which you can access the data from the IBM Watson API:

        "status": "REQUEST_STATUS",
            "language": "DOCUMENT_LANGUAGE",
        "docSentiment": {
            "type": "SENTIMENT_LABEL",
            "score": "DOCUMENT_SENTIMENT",
            "mixed": "SENTIMENT_MIXED"

    This AddOns object will be JSON that you will need to parse. Open app.py again and add the following line to the top of your code:

    import json

    To access the sentiment of the incoming messages, you just need to add a few more lines of code. Open app.py again and rewrite your /sms route:

    @app.route('/sms', methods=['POST'])
    def sms_reply():
        add_ons = json.loads(request.form['AddOns'])
        if add_ons['status'] == 'successful':
            result = add_ons['results']['ibm_watson_sentiment']['result']
            sentiment = result['docSentiment']['type']
            response_message = 'Your response was {}.'.format(sentiment)
            response_message = 'An error has occured.'
        response = twiml.Response()
        return str(response)

    Now send some happy and sad text messages to your Twilio number!

    Looking Ahead

    With some configuration and a few extra lines of code, you can get the sentiment of all messages sent to your Twilio phone numbers, whether you’re using it to improve customer experience or to decide which GIFs to send to your users.


    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments or just want to show off the cool stuff you’ve built.

    SMS Sentiment Analysis in Python with Flask and the IBM Watson Twilio Add-on

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    For two years, Nancy Lublin was CEO of two companies, working two full-time jobs. This past November, she downsized to one full-time job — working as the CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line , which supports thousands through suicidal thoughts, sexual abuse, drug addiction, and more via Twilio SMS. Now that Nancy is only working one job, she’s focused on putting herself out of business.

    A National Problem That Fits Into A Text

    “The goal of every not-for-profit should be to put themselves out of business,” says Nancy.

    “I’d be very happy if there were no more pain out there. That’d be great.” She speaks as both an unflinching optimist and a hardened realist who’s been in the nonprofit sector for more than a decade.

    Nancy is aware of Crisis Text Line’s Herculean task to support someone through a moment of crisis and provide those policy makers with data that informs new laws which address the root of crisis. It’s an uphill battle Crisis Text Line is taking one text at a time. So far, they’re at nearly 20 million texts.

    Crisis Text Line’s Scope of Time and KPIs

    Traditional businesses measure user response times by the order of hours or days. Crisis Text Line has a different scope of time. They measure response time in minutes and seconds.

    “We’re getting people texting in about heat-of-the-moment things, which means it’s a place we can have maximum impact.”

    “Our texters mention ‘today’ 6x as often as any other time. That means they are getting crisis help in the moment, when we can help them make a smart decision,” says Nancy.

    During our interview, Nancy whips out her phone, opens Slack and shows me a Slack channel containing her team’s key performance indicators (KPIs) autogenerated by StaffHat. Nancy uses Crisis Text Line’s quantitative data to inform critical qualitative measurements.


    On the day of our interview, 283 counselors manned the phone lines, averaging 40-60 messages per conversation. 83% of those counselors logged a sub-5 minute response rate. Nancy is pleased. She adds a caveat that Crisis Text Line shoots for a sub-1.4 minute response time for “code orange” instances. These are people who are at high risk of self-harm.

    “You’re either about to have a panic attack, or about to ingest a pill, or about to relapse on something. Or, we remind you how strong you are, what your coping skills are, and you make a healthy decision for yourself,” says Nancy.

    Contextual Care

    While Crisis Text Line conversations are inherently reactionary — a user prompts a Crisis Counselors’ response with a text — Crisis Text Line as a whole is working to be more proactive, to address crisis before it makes it all the way to a text. Crisis Text Line uses their records to recall safety planning for users, and aggregates anonymized data on crisistrends.org to inform policy makers. Using this data, they can provide better support to their users.

    “They feel the most empowered when they come up with their own solutions and ideas,”
    – Nan Krafft, Head of Supervision Product at Crisis Text Line.

    Counselors use a therapeutic technique called mirroring to foster a sense of trust with the texter and allow them to discover their own coping strengths.

    Making A Map of Crisis Across America

    Each conversation that takes place on Crisis Text Line is a tiny data point. When Crisis Text Line looks at a record of their conversations, and places hundreds of thousands of data points on a map, a picture comes into focus.

    They can see which states have higher rates of substance abuse, hotspots where teens suffer from anxiety, counties where texters frequently report physical abuse. Crisis Text Line anonymizes the data to protect the privacy of the user and can be seen at crisistrends.org. There’s another step they take to help their users — sharing the aggregate data with policy makers.


    Crisis Text Line is part tech company and part nonprofit. Their nonprofit side drives them to influence policy. Their tech side wants policy to move faster.

    “If the data shows there’s an acute problem in some part of the country for substance abuse, put more drug clinics there, put more programs there. We are like a heat map so we hope that leads to smarter policy, smarter funding, changes in schools and police departments,” says Nancy.

    When Nancy adds,”What should happen with Crisis Text Line, if we do this the right way, is that our volume should grow, grow, grow grow. Then it should start going down.”

    The Anatomy of a Conversation

    Nan chimes in to make an important distinction between two types of conversation. As the conversations between texter and counselor dwindle, the national conversation on crisis prevention should increase. They’re inextricably, and inversely, related.

    “Part of what we consider a lot is how do we raise the level of the conversation? The fact that we’re at what someone might call a tech conference in San Francisco and there’s a conversation about mental health is because of us using this technology. We want this conversation to be a conversation that takes place all over, about mental health but also about technology and non profit and using technology in a way that’s for good. Good work doesn’t have to be non-profit.” Nan concludes.

    There’s a pause, a rare pause in our conversation. Nancy, holding her phone in her hands, looks like she wants to reopen Slack to check on Crisis Text Line’s performance again.

    Crisis Text Line’s battle is won text by text, moment by moment and they can’t afford to waste either. While each data point, each spot on a map, each region represents a conversation. The staff at Crisis Text Line know that the conversation represents, and is comprised, of something that isn’t as easily quantified – a person in crisis.

    Apps, APIs, and data visualizations can either abstract that fact or put it into focus. With nearly 20 million texts in tow, Crisis Text Line’s data is putting crisis into focus for the community they serve, themselves, and the nation.

    What 19 Million Texts Can Tell You About Crisis In The U.S : Crisis Text Line Fights an Epidemic with Data

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    July 13, 2016

    We spend a lot of time talking about security these days. And right so. Data breaches can be costly for everyone involved. We’re not just talking financial costs either, although those can mount quickly. Industries that deal with sensitive customer data on a daily basis need to ensure that the people and companies creating and using that data do so... Read More

    The post A Beginner’s Guide to HIPAA and PCI-DSS Compliance appeared first on Plum Voice.

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    July 12, 2016

    Your development environment reflects your work. But, what does the collective sum of developers’ work look like? We asked over 4,000 builders of all sorts to participate in our 2016 State of the Builder Survey to find out the answer to that question. Download the full results of our 2016 State of the Builder Survey to get the full rundown.  Here are a few quick hits.


    Of the 4,000+ builders that took the survey:
    • 74% of participants identify as developers
    • 26% identify as non-developers
    Of the Developers:
    • 27% have been writing code for 3-6 years
    • 17% have been writing code for 11-15 years
    • 16% have been writing code for 20+ years
    • 12% have been writing code for 0-2 years
    • 9% have been writing code for 16-19 years
    Of the Non-Developers:
    • The biggest pain points for adopting new technology are time to implement and developing internal approvals
    • The most trusted source for news on companies they’re evaluating is LinkedIn

    Read the whole State of the Builder 2016 results here.


    The 2016 State Of The Builder Results Are In

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    Two Days. Over 85 talks. Hundreds of speakers. There’s a whole lot to unpack from SIGNAL 2016.

    Whether you write code, or build companies (or both) — there’s a SIGNAL track, and a SIGNAL talk for you.

    Now, all the talks from SIGNAL 2016 are live for your viewing pleasure. You can easily revisit your favorite sessions, or catch up on talks you missed by browsing through each talk track.

    If you need a primer on all that was SIGNAL, and the litany of launches. Check out our Day 1 and Day 2 recaps.

    Psst…if you can’t wait until next year for SIGNAL, we’re bring SIGNAL to London September 20th.


    APIs and Development Track

    Twilio Builder Track

    APIs and Coding Track

    Internet of Things Track

    On-Demand Economy Track

    Technology for Good Track

    Mobile Track

    Security Track

    Scaling Track

    Real-Time Comms Track

    SIGNAL Conference 2016 Videos: Talks, Tracks, Sessions

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    July 11, 2016

    It takes just a few lines of code and even fewer minutes to send your first text message with PHP and Twilio. Here’s how:

    Sign up for a free Twilio account and buy a phone number.

    Install the PHP helper library. There are two ways to do this:

    1. Use Composer:
      composer require twilio/sdk 
       If you do it this way, include the library using
      require "vendor/autoload.php';
    2. Download the library, unzip it, and move the
       folder into your code directory. If you do it this way, require the library using
      require 'Services/Twilio.php';

    Find your account SID and auth token in your console dashboard, and your phone number in your phone numbers list. Create a file called

     to store these values.

    $account_sid = "YOURACCOUNTSID";
    $auth_token = "YOURAUTHTOKEN";
    $twilio_phone_number = "+YOURTWILIONUMBER";

    Create a file called

      and paste in the code below to:

    1. Include the helper library and settings file
    2. Create a Twilio client using our account credentials
    3. Create a new message from our twilio number, to our cellphone

    //require "vendor/autoload.php'; //if you used composer
    require 'Services/Twilio.php';  //if you downloaded the library
    include 'settings.php'; 
    $client = new Services_Twilio($account_sid, $auth_token);
        "From" => $twilio_phone_number,
        "To" => "13123131434",
        "Body" => "Whaddup from PHP!"));

    Save your file and run it:

    php send-sms.php

    Boom! Your phone should light up with a text!

    Next Steps

    We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with PHP and Twilio. If you’d like to explore more, check these out:

    If you build something sweet using PHP and Twilio, or if you have any questions, I’d love to hear about it. Please drop me a line at @greggyb or gb@twilio.com



    Send SMS with PHP and Twilio in 60 seconds

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    Yasmine Mustafa recognizes that chance might have saved her life. But that doesn’t preclude her from fighting against it.
    Her earliest memory is huddling together with her friends, family, and neighbors as they braced for the next bomb to rattle their bomb shelter. Moments later, two men would come calling for her baby brother. These U.S. Embassy employees escorted her whole family out of Kuwait just as the Persian Gulf War began. They relocated to Philadelphia — where, months earlier, Yasmine’s mother gave birth to her brother while accompanying her father on a business trip. The fact Yasmine’s brother would be born a U.S. Citizen on a business trip and rescued from a war zone is nothing but pure chance.
    Chance can make or break you, or leave you somewhere in the murky middle. Yasmine is a self-made entrepreneur fighting against the darker side of chance. She and her team built a safety alert tool called Athena to reduce women’s chance of being assaulted.
    Athena is a wearable device that, at the press of a button, allows users to send out a call, text, and GPS information to a network of their emergency contacts using Twilio.

    The Inspiration For Athena

    Being born female should not place you at higher risk of being harmed. Yet, when Yasmine solo-trekked through South America on sabbatical for 6 months, she heard countless stories from women who had been assaulted.
    When she returned home to Philadelphia, a woman was brutally attacked one block from her home. Shortly thereafter, she called serial entrepreneur and friend, Anthony Gold, and the two founded ROAR. A few months later, they started making plans for an IndieGoGo campaign to fund Athena.

    By the second day of Athena’s IndieGogo campaign, ROAR raised $40,000 of their $40,000 goal. The 10th day, they raised $100,000. By the end of the campaign they raised over $300,000.
    Today, ROAR has Athena pre-orders from every state in the U.S and over 50 countries.

    ROAR’s Mission

    Anthony credits Athena’s initial success to both need, thoughtful design, and core social mission. Devices like tasers or pepper spray are predicated on a close-quarters fight with a would-be attacker. Athena uses the power of communication to alert a network and stop an attack before it starts.
    ROAR is also attempting to fight the root causes of violence against women. As a certified B-Corp, they donate a portion of their proceeds to educational programs that are proven to increase empathy and reduce violence. A substantial percentage of their proceeds go to raising awareness about the warning signs of abuse and putting an end to violence in relationships.
    Yasmine, Anthony, and the rest of the ROAR team wake up every day asking themselves what more they can be doing to help reduce assaults and further empower women. And nothing would bring them more joy than for there to no longer be a need for products like Athena and companies like ROAR. Until then, they plan to do everything in their power to make a difference.
    ROAR has their work cut out for them, but the tide seems to be shifting their favor. Yasmine knows that all she needs to improve thousands of women’s lives is a flicker of chance.

    Engineering Chance Out Of The Equation: Athena Fights Assault Programmatically

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    Japanese telecom operator KDDI has introduced a multilingual sightseeing guidance app for foreign visitors using the multilingual speech translation system at Mount. Fuji. KDDI will provide route guidance and climbing advice through the multilingual speech translation system, in addition to supporting safe and trouble-free climbing. KDDI aims to convey the attractions of Mount Fuji and contribute to […]

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    July 08, 2016

    If you’ve ever sold anything on Craigslist, requested a quote on the internet, or watched The Wire, then you may have found yourself wishing for a “burner” phone. In this post we’ll use TwiML Bins to create a temporary phone number that forwards phone calls to your cellphone. This will take less than three minutes, even if you’ve never written a line of code before!

    Sign up for a free Twilio account if you don’t already have one. Then go to Developer Tools in your console and click on TwiML Bins. TwiML is a simple set of instructions used to program your Twilio number. TwiML Bins let you host static TwiML without setting up a server of your own.

    Create a TwiML Bin. Name it “Forward to my cellphone.” Then copy this code to <Dial> your cellphone number when a call comes in.




    Buy a phone number

    Congrats! You just wrote some TwiML! Now you just need to buy a programmable phone number:

    • Go to your Phone Numbers Dashboard.
    • Click Buy a Number.
    • Search for a number that suits you.
    • Click Buy
    • Confirm your purchase, then click Setup Number.

    All that’s left is to tell Twilio where to find instructions on what to do when someone calls this temporary phone number. Under Messaging, look for the line that says “A message comes in.” Change the first box to “TwiML” and the second to “Forward to my cellphone,” then save your configuration.


    That’s it! Borrow a friend’s cellphone and call your Twilio number. A few seconds later, your cell phone should light up. You now have a temporary phone number you can give out to the Internet without concern.

    Next Steps

    Call forwarding and disposable numbers are just the beginning of what you can do with TwiML Bins and programmable phone numbers. For more ideas check out:

    Also, if you’re looking for a more robust temporary phone functionality, check out Burner App which uses Twilio to give you a temporary phone number that can send and receive text messages and place and receive phone calls.

    If you have any questions or build anything sweet, I’d love to hear about it. You can find me at @greggyb or gb@twilio.com.

    Set Up a Temporary Phone Number in 3 Minutes with Twilio

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